Books on India
Irdian Rupee (INR)
Update No: 021 - (31/10/05)
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad will be the new Chief Minister of Jammu and
Kashmir. Azad will be sworn in on 2 November, and will hold the post for three
He will replace PDP's Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who completed three years as the
state's Chief Minister. In 2002, the two parties had agreed to share power on a
three-year rotation basis after the elections produced a hung verdict. Congress
General Secretary Ambika Soni said the decision to appoint Azad had been
communicated to Sayeed, who assured PDP's support to the new government. Soni
added that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had taken the decision after
consulting the party leaders, including the legislators from the state.
The Indo-US nuke deal debate on Capitol Hill is moving into an admittedly
difficult second stage, with the spotlight set to turn on the formidable
non-proliferation dimension. Analysts point out that there are any number of
experts and political pundits in Washington ready to raise the red flag on the
ground that the nuke deal will weaken the non-proliferation regime, spearheaded
by the US all these years. While the Bush administration is confident of
mobilizing Congressional support for the nuclear pact with India, the vocal
non-proliferation community in Washington is pressing for "killer
amendments" to the nuclear deal. Ending the production of fissionable
nuclear material by India is at the top of the list of "improvements"
being sought by the nuclear experts campaigning to undermine the nuclear pact
signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last July. India,
which expects the Bush administration to carry the day with the Congress, has
refused to cap the production of nuclear material except in an multilateral
treaty arrangement. More fundamentally, India has no desire to renegotiate the
July pact under any potential pressure from the Congress. India has also asked
the Security Council to act against both "recipients and sources" of
proliferation. India's Ambassador to the UN, Nirupam Sen is believed to have
stated that "turning a blind eye to supposed allies and targeting supposed
adversaries can only undermine efforts to contain such weapons." US
legislators also criticized the Bush administration for providing little
information about a landmark proposal to share civilian nuclear technology with
India, with one republican saying Indian authorities know more about the deal
than their counterparts in the United States. Key legislators have also sent a
letter asking secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to begin consultations with
Congress. Congressmen Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations
Committee was critical that the Congress seemed to think that there was a
consensus on this issue while actually evidence pointed to the contrary.
Reacting strongly to New Delhi's call to the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) to further investigate Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear network,
Pakistan has held India responsible for promoting nuclear proliferation and arms
race in the region. Pakistan has not completely turned down India's offer of
aid. In some recent developments, after 15 years, telephone calls resumed
between the two Kashmirs. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that
hit Pakistan and claimed over 20,000 lives alone in the country, Pakistani
President Pervez Musharaff has tried to use this issue as a critical opportunity
for solving the Kashmir dispute by giving self-government to the people in the
region. The All-Party Hurriyat Conference leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had also
urged the Indian government to open up all the seven road links on the two sides
of divided Kashmir, which includes Kargil-Skardu, Uri-Muzaffarabad, and
Tangdar-Tithwal, Poonch-Rawalakot, Jammu-Sialkot roads, and roads in the
Naushera sector. India has welcomed the move to open the LoC, but it wants to
wait for the formal proposals. India is yet to work seriously on travel
documents and other details with the ministries of home and foreign affairs.
India needs to adopt a very realistic approach on such issues or else things
might get complicated.
Russia is helping and supporting India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
to seek waiver of curbs for transfer of civilian technology. President Vladimir
Putin has expressed such desires to foster better ties with India. The President
also pledged his country's support for India to get international restrictions
on civilian nuclear technology transfers lifted.
The government has put on hold the decision to divest ten percent of its
equity in profit-making navratna BHEL. The decision will be kept in
"abeyance" according to Congress General Secretary Ambika Soni.
Earlier this year Finance Minister P.Chidambaram had proposed disinvestments as
a way of financing social sector schemes.
The India Stock Exchange, Sensex, breached yet another milestone after crossing
the 8,800-point mark for the first time in history. The Sensex ended the day at
8799, up 102 points. The Nifty was up 33 points at 2663. The sentiment at Dalal
Street was upbeat and buoyant drawing from robust FII inflows coupled with
better-than-expected second quarter results. Aluminium, auto, banks, cement,
engineering, fertilisers, FMCG, technology, infrastructure, media and oil PSU
stocks attracted significant buying.
Gains in pharmaceuticals, power, steel, sugar and textile stocks also
contributed to the northward rally of the Sensex. Among index heavyweights, HDFC
Bank and Dr. Reddy's Labs were the biggest gainers, rallying over three per
cent. Maruti, Tata Motors, ACC, Bajaj Auto, Hindalco, L&T, HDFC and Wipro
were the other key gainers. Mid-cap and small-cap stocks also made a smart
comeback with both BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices gaining over one per cent.
Four-wheeler and two-wheeler stocks also held on to gains on the back of robust
September sales. Eicher Motors continued to be the outperformer on the counter
after the company registered 10 per cent growth in commercial vehicles sales in
September 2005. All the three frontline stocks - Maruti, Tata Motors and
Mahindra and Mahindra - clocked gains of over one per cent each.
While Tata Motors has reported a 13.24 per cent increase in vehicle sales,
Maruti clocked a 12 per cent rise in sales. Cement stocks traded firm with Prism
Cement clocking gains of over two per cent. Shree Cements, India Cements and
Grasim Industries also traded firm. Dena Bank was the biggest gainer with the
scrip posting whopping gains of over 8 per cent. HDFC Bank, Bank of Maharashtra,
Andhra Bank, South Indian Bank, Syndicate Bank, UCO Bank and Vijaya Bank also
clocked considerable gains. Indusind Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Union Bank of
India and UTI Bank were the other key gainers. Mid-cap technology stocks
continued their good run with Maars Software and Hinduja TMT rallying over ten
per cent. CMC, GTL, Kale Consultants, Pentasoft Technologies, Ramco Systems,
Zenith Computer, SSI, Mastek and Aftek Infosys were the other key gainers at the
counter. Essar Oil and IBP led the gains at the oil and gas counter with a surge
of over 2 per cent each. GAIL India announced that it was keen on investing in
exploration and production ventures and LNG liquefaction ventures in Australia.
India keen to promote trade with Pakistan
Indian Foreign Minister, Kunwar Natwar Singh, has said that trade normalization
at a time when both India and Pakistan are in the midst of growth spurt has
opened up immense opportunities for the private sector on the either side. He
called upon the private sector to pounce on this opportunity for a better and
prosperous future of the two nations.
Speaking to members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and
Industry, Mr Singh called on businessmen to identify complementarities in the
two economies and workout avenues of cooperation for the mutual benefit of the
two nations. Identifying potential fields of collaboration he mentioned
agriculture, chemical, textile, engineering, hydropower, pharmaceuticals,
chemicals, engineering, etc.
He said Pakistan could export cotton yarn, textile fabrics, surgical, sports
goods and water coolers to India. India was also looking at import of
electricity from Pakistan if it had a surplus, he added. The minister said India
could meet Pakistan's annual demand of 100,000 vehicle tyres. "There is a
lot of scope for cooperation in the services sector as well as in tourism,
information technology, banking, aviation, etc," he said.
Mr Singh said that Safta would come into force from January 1, 2006 and
expressed the hope that South Asian nations would gain substantially from its
enforcement. Comparing the performance of Saarc with Asean (a far eastern
nations' economic grouping), he regretted that over the last 20 years not a
single project under Saarc could take off primarily for political reasons.
Responding to a question, the foreign minister said the Indian government was
keen to promote trade and commerce. He said that India had unilaterally given an
MFN status to Pakistan, lowered tariff barriers and was willing to look into
non-tariff hurdles in the way of promotion of trade between the two neighbours.
He said India had formulated a negative list of items of trade with Pakistan.
This implies that all items that are not on the list can be traded freely with
Pakistan. Pakistan still has a positive list, which means that only items on the
list are allowed for trade with India. Mr Singh called for negative list by
Pakistan instead of a positive list of tradable items between the two countries.
Dispelling the impression of coldness of India towards Saarc, he said:
"India is looking forward to the Saarc summit in Dhaka in November."
He hoped that with the normalization of relations between the two countries, the
contribution of the regional organization would also improve.
Mr Singh said that transit trade of India to Afghanistan and Central Asian
countries through Pakistan remained a dream. He called upon the FPCCI to take up
the matter with its government.
The Indian foreign minister saw Karachi as a future hub and commercial centre
not only for Pakistan but for the whole region. He said direct trade between
India and Pakistan would get a boost with the opening of road transportation and
ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi and removal of non-tariff barriers.
He said direct trade through Attari-Wagah, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and
Monabao-Khokrapar routes was likely to start soon. The Karachi-Mumbai ferry
service, signing of shipping protocol and expansion of civil aviation service
between the two countries would be other steps towards more trade and economic
cooperation, he said.
Later responding to a question, Indian High Commissioner, Shivsankar Menon, said
their embassy was making all-out efforts to facilitate business travellers. He
assured that business visas would now be issued within 10 days, with no-police
reporting status and with entry permission for as many cities as the applicant
wish to visit. He mentioned that as against 50 visas in a month two years back,
the embassy is processing 10,500 visas a month now.
Earlier, FPCCI President, Chaudhry Mohammad Saeed, welcomed the guests. He gave
a number of suggestions to the minister to facilitate trade. He suggested that
warehousing facilities for transit storage be made available at the Wagah Border
for goods awaiting completion of customs formalities.